Continuing his series of Wednesday general audiences devoted to Christian hope, Pope Francis devoted his June 14 audience to the relationship between God’s love and our hope.
“In our catechesis on Christian hope, we have found the source of that hope in God’s unconditional love, revealed for us in the coming of the Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
“None of us can live without love,” he continued, according to the Vatican’s official English-language summary of the audience. “Happiness comes from the experience of knowing love, freely given and received. So much unhappiness in our world is born of the feeling of not being loved for our own sake.”
The number of Christians living in Syria and Iraq has been cut in half—and perhaps significantly further—since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, according to a new report.
The report by Open Doors and Middle East Concern finds that Syria’s Christian population, which stood at 2 million before the civil war, is now perhaps 1 million. In Iraq, where an offensive by the Islamic State drove Christians out of the Nineveh Valley, at least 100,000 have fled the country. Of course who remain, many are now displaced; some are considering a return to their homes now that the Iraqi government has regained control of the Nineveh Valley.
Cardinal-designate Anders Arborelius, who was recently named Sweden’s first cardinal, said that the papal visit last fall has made the Church a more accepted part of the secular society.
“We are not only a little minority of second-class foreigners, but we belong to the society,” the bishop of Stockholm said in an interview with the Zenit news agency. “And I think for many Catholics, and for many Christians, this was a very important sign that the Pope was received by all the officials, the king, government, and so forth.”
“We can show the Pope that Europe is not lost for Christianity,” he added. “Even in our part of the world, it’s possible to live as a Christian and to receive an interest from non-faithful people to listen to our voices and that Christian voices in Sweden work very much together in many issues, migration, refugees, and so forth.”